Some things we might want to do – lose significant weight, start a business, redecorate the house – are long term projects. So how can you stay motivated for such a long time?
1 – Understand your ‘why’
In order to maintain long term motivation you need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. You need to be able to see how what you are doing takes you to your overall goal. But there’s something else you need as well – to make sure that the goal itself, and your actions to reach it, are in line with your values. If they’re not then you need to rethink what you’re doing and how, as otherwise they will be unsustainable.
2 – Make a commitment
The vast majority of people, if they do have a long-term goal or plan, have not written it down. This leaves that goal or plan fighting for attention with the other 1,000 plus thoughts we have every minute. Writing them down doesn’t just make us give our goals a definite form – it also makes us more committed to them, helping us to stay motivated.
3 – Share the commitment
After writing them down the next multiplier of success and motivation is sharing your goals. Ideally that’s with a supportive friend or partner, but that’s not always possible. Perhaps you’re a secret smoker, and so you can’t share your goal to become a non-smoker. In that case there are a number of apps and websites where you can share your commitment with other people or with Artificial Intelligence.
4 – Give updates
Give the people supporting you regular feedback on your progress. Committing to sharing your progress will help you to stay motivated about the time or effort involved. And give the person you’re sharing it with permission to badger you if they don’t get your regular update.
5 – Add jeopardy or a reward
The commitment sharing apps have a range of ways in which you can add jeopardy, and unattractive outcomes for missing activities or failing to reach goals. Some of those are about paying money to the app’s owners, but there is a risk people will see this as enabling rather than preventing failure. Others use the idea of pledging money to a charity you don’t want to support, or the prospect of being shamed or humiliated.
I’m not sure that the last step is a good idea. It may suit some people, but it’s a very negative approach to motivation. It’s much easier to stay motivated when you have a positive outcome, or a pleasant reward for your progress.
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